The Bethel Woods Performing Arts Center was transformed into Mysteryland USA over Memorial Day Weekend and became the first major festival thrown on the hallowed grounds of Woodstock since the original festival was thrown in 1969.
While the festival certainly went through the growing pains that come along with throwing the first festival of its kind on such historic ground, that didn’t stop the 20,000+ attendees from enjoying the whimsical Woodstock meets Alice In Wonderland experience that Tomorrowland/Tomorowworld organizers ID&T threw down.
Here’s why you should’ve been here.
NO DEATHS OR OVERDOSES
I firmly believe that this is the single most important thing to occur at Mysteryland USA 2014. The 21+ event kept a lot of the 18 year old SEX DRUGS DUBSTEP shirt-wearing kids out and with an older more experienced crowd comes a more mature vibe and responsible behavior. The extensive security measures and drug sniffing dogs definitely helped keep people in line and there was no shortage of people offering others water and checking in on people throughout the sets. From the Sullivan County Sherrif Michael Schiff:
“They were a very well-mannered crowd,” Schiff said. “I walked through the crowd; I saw the kids. They were just there to have a good time. It was just wonderful to see.”
This music and environment is an incredibly special thing and to have it be marred by a stigma of irresponsible festival-goers could spell the end of such a beautiful thing. I hope that more festivals continue in this fashion and commend all of the people at Mysteryland for contributing to such a positive experience.
If you were coming to Mysteryland for the 150 foot LED screen you would’ve probably done better in the parking lot at EDC New York because festival organizers ID&T instead chose to create an immersive experience complete with out-of-this world decorations that would’ve probably done better in a Lewis Carol book than a warehouse rave. Whether it was the giant teddy bear that lived, died, and came back to life again, the Burning Man Money Tree with those dapper lads or the wishing tree the ambiance of the festival was immersive.
The festival carried with it the magic of mystery from the rolling hills of Woodstock and environment design carrying with it a fairy tale like story that calminated with the house of cards Mainstage that “burned down” at the Closing Ceremonies of the festival complete with fireworks show. The Sunday School tent came complete with a giant schoolbus stage setup, the latin influenced Sin Salsada stage was occupied by costumed dancers and the Vinyl Only stage came complete with hanging vinyl records on a simple 90’s styled dance floor. The Spiegeltent housed the darkest stylings of techno in a sweaty indoor venue and the residents of the Boat Stage couldn’t be more excited to play on a giant pirate ship (how is that NOT cool!).
The Boat Stage
Speaking of The Boat Stage, that may have very well been the rowdiest place in Mysteryland all weekend no doubt because of the unbelievable lineup that was crafted to bring it to life. Saturday was full of the filthiest varieties of bass music, from Figure, Dirtyphonics and Lindsey Lowend to Zomboy. Definitely special mention has to be made to Dirtyphonics for taking the last 5 minutes of their set to play the entirety of Purple Haze out to recognize the importance of being back on the Woodstock 1969 grounds. The highlight of the first night was easily the performance of Big Gigantic and their signature combination of electronic, funk and hip-hop elements from saxophonist Dominic Lalli and drummer Jeremy Salken. You can check an interview I did with them and a bit more of a detailed set review over at ThatNewJam.
The second day at The Boat Stage was blown away by big-time 808’s from Brillz and Bro Safari to BroBible favorites LOUDPVCK, and Milo & Otis. Dillstradamus (the combination of Flosstradamus and Dillon Francis) closed out Sunday night in what have been the most fun set of the entire weekend, with the three of them having the time of their life DJing the place like a college house party. From playing Alice DJ to (appropriately) I’m On A Boat by The Lonely Island and ASAP Ferg.
While you could certainly try and complain about how the campgrounds were muddy, the wristband chips glitched for a couple hours and the phone charging lockers weren’t top notch (first world problems?), the experience of a festival is what you make of it and it was never more evident in the people that attended Mysteryland USA. There was a collective feeling of positivity from everyone on the grounds and there was no shortage of good vibes and people to meet wherever you turned. Whether it was running into an old friend you’d never expect to see (Hi Josh) jamming with someone you’ve never met before for a whole set like you’ve known them for years (Hi Cheryl) or just rocking out with the dudes that camped next to us that had the Hi Mom totem (Hi Mom).
This kinda speaks for itself but one of the most awesome things about festival culture is the creativity that gets put into signs and totems by festival-goers. Not only are they conversation starters and often hilarious, but what other than looking for the giant Will Farrell head could be an easier way to find your friends in a giant crowd?